Stocks are modestly higher after struggling to find direction much of the day amid light volume and ahead of a week filled with economic data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Averagewas up more than 40 points after ending the previous session modestly higher.
Chevron, Merck,and IBM rose. Hewlett-Packard and American Express fell.
The S&P 500and Nasdaq were slightly higher. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 22.
Consumer discretionary, energy and health care gained, while utilities and technology slipped.
All the major indexes are up more than 4 percent for the month so far, although volume has been light. Fewer than 1 billion shares have changed hands daily on the New York Stock Exchange this week.
"Volume is still very, very light in this market, and news is light as well," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments. "The market is drifting higher in the absence of any definitive, fundamental news."
In the technology sector, HP shares fell more than 1 percent following news U.S. investigators are widening their probe of alleged kickbacks paid to Russian authorities by employees of a Hewlett-Packard subsidiary in Germany.
Dell slumped after Morgan Stanley downgraded their rating on the PC maker to "underweight" from "equalweight."
Cisco fell slightly after brokerage RBC downgraded its rating on the tech giant to "outperform" from "top pick" and cut its price target to $26 from $28.
Apple fell slightly after the iPod maker, in a reversal, made it easier for third parties to build applications and software for the iPhone and the iPad.
Chipmakers also took a beating in the wake of several analyst downgrades and weak outlooks. National Semiconductor tumbled after the chipmaker issued a weak outlook. In addition, at least four brokerages cut their price targets on the firm.
Similarly, Texas Instruments slipped after the semiconductor giant narrowed its earnings and revenue outlook but kept the mid-point of its forecast range. Stifel Nicolaus and Jefferies both cut their price targets on IT to $29 from $32 and $37, respectively.
Meanwhile, Nokia rose after news it has replaced its CEO with a Microsoft executive, to better fight fierce competition in the market for smartphones. Microsoft shares slipped. RBC raised its rating on Nokia to "outperform" from "sector perform" and raised its price target to $14 from $12.
And Facebook overtook Google in minutes spent by users, according to new data from researchers at comScore.
Research In Motion , meanwhile, slipped amid rumors the smartphone maker may eventually be acquired by Microsoft. Speculators said Microsoft has so much cash that the acquisition is conceivable.